Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Matters of Public Importance
This is a preamble to the sovereign fuel security bill, on which the most diverse of views are represented on the crossbench. They have very, very diverse views. But we have come together to do something which is good for the country. This is a self-reliance issue. I raise the question on China. We want to be friends with China. We are not picking a fight with China. But if they were to embargo our fuel—our petrol and diesel—which comes out of Singapore and South Korea, then we would be in the most terrible trouble.
If you think that these scenarios are fanciful, do you read history books? In World War I, Churchill bought British Petroleum, the Anglos controlled all of the world's oil, and Germany went to war. In World War II, the Americans cut off the supply of oil to Japan, and Japan had to go to war. We have had Middle Eastern wars continuously for the last 40 or 50 years, all over oil. Twenty-seven per cent of our indigenous oil is sent overseas. Twenty-seven per cent of our petrol and diesel requirements are exported and then imported, with a huge profit margin for the people that process it. We're the poor country that just produces raw materials.
What we're proposing is that we ban the export of oil. That is very common, and I think most countries on earth do that. Most certainly America does it with gas. That's item 1: the oil will be kept in Australia and processed into petrol and diesel here. That's 27 per cent self-sufficiency now. Our waste can be converted into diesel. Germany did this in the latter years of the war. Southern Oil is doing it now. They've been visited by the Queensland Premier and the Prime Minister of Australia. They've been going for 16 or 17 years, making profits. They say that major population centres can turn 30 per cent of the waste of Australia into diesel.
Al Gore, the patron saint of the environment movement, in his book An Inconvenient Truth, cites renewables—ethanol specifically—as the first answer to the CO2 problems on the planet. So we are proposing that 40 to 45 per cent of Australia's petrol be renewables. That is what it is in Brazil, and I think it is 13 to 15 per cent in America, to quote two examples. Of course, we are extremely well suited to supply that at a very great profit and benefit for our country. And we are proposing that government cars in metropolitan areas be electric, which will extend our fuel supply in Australia for many more years than would normally occur and also provide us with an industry in Australia, because part of our proposal is that those electric government cars will be manufactured in Australia by an Australian owned company by law. No more of your economic rationalism, sending everything overseas. It stays here.
What a fantastic contribution to the nation the crossbenchers are making here. We buried our differences, which are huge. We buried our differences. Couldn't the major parties bury their differences and do something good for their country? Ninety-five per cent of Australians would agree with every single element of that, and it'll cost the country nothing at all. As a young man—I'm 76 years of age—I've spent most of my life with 72 per cent of our motor vehicles being produced by Australians. Five out of six of our great mining companies—the biggest mining companies on earth—were Australian owned. Five out of six of our major farming operations were Australian owned. All of the sugarcane mills—cane was our major industry in Queensland until coal came along—were 100 per cent Australian owned by Australian farmers. Our meatworks were 80 per cent—arguably 90 per cent—Australian owned from the cattle industry. And 100 per cent of our electricity was Australian owned. Now, no motor vehicles are produced in Australia—not 72 per cent; none. Our mining companies—five out of six of which were once owned by Australians—are now foreign owned. Five out of six of our major farming operations were Australian owned; the operations are now foreign owned. All of our sugar cane mills in Queensland are foreign owned, bar one. Our meatworks are 99 per cent foreign owned. Rather interestingly, apparently 25 per cent of our electricity is now coming from solar panels which come from China. So 25 per cent of our electricity is coming from China. And China owns 43 per cent of our electricity industry in Australia. We're a Third World country. Almost all of our exports are simply iron ore and coal. And the other minerals, including iron ore, are derivatives of coal and must be smelted by coal—that's copper, aluminium, zinc and iron.
I have never been a dramatist with respect to climate change. I have always said that, if you want to argue about climate change, I am not into that argument. But there is no argument about what happens in the ocean. If you've done elementary chemistry, you know that the more carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere, the more carbon dioxide there is in the ocean, which means changes to the pH level. And shellfish, which are at the bottom of the food chain—most shellfish can't be seen with a magnifying glass—will have great difficulty in forming their shells, which are calcium carbonate, which is an alkaline. A problem is arising there, but it's not about the problem arising; it is about knowing that we are going to run out of fossil fuels in 150 years.
To me, 150 years is not a long time. I can remember my great-grandfather, Joe Warby, vividly and with very great affection. Well, he was alive 150 years ago. So you'd better get off your backside if you want to deal with the fact that fossil fuels won't be around. God bless fossil fuels and God bless the industries that have provided us with great wealth in Queensland. But they won't be around, so we on the crossbench have got off our backsides and are proposing what will happen into the future, and we will be riding the front of that wave as we go into the future. These moderate proposals will bring an extra, I would argue, $10 billion a year into the Australian economy. That's 100,000 direct jobs, and indirect jobs doubles that figure.
In finally concluding what we're saying here, I praise the Prime Minister, insofar as what the Prime Minister said was, 'It is not a matter of when; it is a matter of what.' I wish he'd held his ground on it, because now he is on the 'when' side and not on the 'what' side. We're not talking about 'when' here; we're talking about 'what'. Do something about it. Don't talk about it; do something about it. Even if you do not believe in climate change or the problem arising in the oceans, you have to say that the fossil fuels will not be there, and you've got a huge time frame in which to move into new industries and, once again, to produce a refined downstream product, and not just be the raw materials country that really exports nothing else except iron ore and coal.
It seems to be the opinion of this place that we're going to close down the coal industry. I don't know where you're going to get your income from overseas. And don't talk about education, because it's an insult to our intelligence. It was never there until about 18 years ago, because the figures were looking so bad they moved education from over here into an export industry. Well, it's not an export industry. Your taxis are driven by overseas students. Your after-hours stores are manned by overseas students. It's simply rotating money in Australia. Indigenous oil is 27 per cent; waste to diesel is 30 per cent; renewables are 40— (Time expired.)